This is not your typical SEO guide.
The goal of this post is not to bore you with all the technical jargon that leaves you feeling more confused than when you started.
SEO does not have to be intimidating (I promise).
With the simple SEO for beginners guide, you will learn the basics of what you need to know/ do to create SEO-friendly content. You will walk away more confident than ever, knowing that you have what it takes to create a post worthy of the first page of Google.
A Super Simple SEO For Beginners Guide
Let’s start with the basic SEO definitions
If you’re going to master SEO, you are going to need to get familiar with some of the most common SEO terms that you’ll see pop up over and over again.
Search Engine– A system or software that is designed to carry out web search. The most popular search engine in the world is Google.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)– This is the method of optimizing and growing the quality and quantity of traffic to a website/ blog by increasing the visibility so that it shows up in the search engines.
Off Page SEO– Any traffic generating activity that is done OUTSIDE of your blog or website.
On Page SEO– Traffic generating activity that is done ON your blog or website.
Ranking: Ordering search results by relevance to the query.
Keyword: Word or phrase typed into the search bar.
The Disclaimer SEO ‘Experts’ Don’t Want You To Hear!
I am about to tell you something that the so called SEO Experts don’t want you to know.
The goal of SEO is to optimize your post in such a way that it is worthy of ranking high on the Google SERP.
In other words, SEO does not guarantee that your post will make it to the top. It does not mean that you’ll suddenly get an influx of traffic either. Because SEO is all about optimizing your content to increases your chances of ranking.
You can rank for great keywords that a lot people are searching for. You can also rank for keywords that no one is searching for. Sure you’ll end up on page one, but if no one is searching for your keyword, you won’t get much traffic.
It’s important to me that you start with that understanding because then you’ll understand what you need to do to find good keywords and optimize them so that you create content that is WORTHY of ranking.
By the way- If anyone has told you that they can guarantee you anything when it comes to SEO….. I want you to run! ??♀️
Run because even the people at Google cannot tell you for certain all the factors that determine ranking (there is a lot). SEO is driven by a complicated algorithm.
What we do know (which I will be discussing in this post) is based on research and experience.
Thus SEO is an art more than a science and there is no way to get it perfect 100% of the time.
Why Is SEO Important (Why bother)?
The hard reality is that without SEO, the chances of you growing your blog organically are low.
Understanding the basics of SEO is vital to the growth and longevity of your blog and brand as a whole.
Thousands of people are searching for content and looking for solutions to their problems online. You can help them by positioning content in such a way that it offers the solution to their needs.
Think about the last time you had a question. If you are like most people under the age of 50 (probably even over), you went to google and type in your question.
Your goal when you use a search engine is to find the best possible answer to your question. The solution to your problem.
Research shows that 40 percent of web traffic starts out with someone searching for something on a search engine.
This means that right now, someone could be searching for your content.
SEO is important because it brings the right people to your blog and to your content. Using smart SEO principles, you can create content that specifically answers questions that your audience is looking for.
Doing SEO well is a surefire way to get consistent traffic to your blog. Not just right after you hit publish. But potentially for years and years to come.
Without using proper SEO, you will have to rely on paid advertising and will struggle to get your valuable content in the eyes of the right people. This can cause you to lose out to your competitors who may already be implementing SEO.
SEO Ranking Factors
Before we discuss the SEO ranking factors, let us think about search engines and how they work.
I think this will make it easier to understand the ranking factors that I will be discussing.
Firstly, it is important to recognize that search engines (such as google) serve one main goal. That is to provide the right resources to answer their users queries. You can call these queries, questions, problems or even keywords.
The success of a search engine is based on how well they are able to find resources related to the keyword that is searched.
So say you go on google and type ‘best baby strollers’, Google crawls the entire internet to look for the best resources. They want you to find the best baby stroller, so they will show you the best, most high quality sites that have this keyword on the first page of google.
In SEO terms, we would say that these posts have ranked well.
This is important to search engines like google because the more they provide the best possible answers, the more users will return next time they are searching for something.
Of course if you are a baby stroller company, or you have a review post talking about the best baby strollers, you want your content to show up on the first page.
It is rare for people searching for an answer to a problem to go to the 2nd page or 3rd or 4th… you get the point.
In fact, the goal as a content creator, is for your content to show up as one of the first 3 posts.
SEO is what helps you tell the search engines what your content is about.
You need a way to prove to Google that your content is the absolute best and is deserving of that high ranking on the first page of the SERP.
This leads us into SEO ranking factors.
SEO Ranking Factors- What Makes Content Rank High?
There are many factors that can affect how well your content ranks on the SERP.
Content is by far the most important SEO ranking factor that there is. We know that search engines want to present the best content to the users. In order to rank high, you need to first focus on creating posts that are of high quality, helpful and that people actually want to read.
Here are some things that you can do to show the search engines that you have high quality content relating to the users needs.
Use Keywords Everywhere
Keywords are the terms that people are searching for. The use of keywords in your content is how the search engines know what your content is all about.
Understanding keywords and keyphrases is very important. You need to be able to predict what keywords and phrases people are searching for. This information comes from knowing your ideal audience and requires some keyword research.
Once you know your keywords, you need to include it throughout your content.
Keywords should go:
- Title/ Headline
- Body of your post
- Image alt text
- Meta description
- Your Introduction
When you write your blog posts, it is a good idea to introduce the keyword somewhere near the start of the post so that it is immediately clear what your post is about. This tells the search engines and also your reader that the post will be relevant.
You also need to sprinkle your keyword throughout the rest of your post as well as in at least one of your subheads. Be careful to make it sound natural as search engines can now tell if you are trying to keyword stuff.
Keyword stuffing– Overusing your keyword within your text (Avoid this).
Not only should you use keywords throughout your post, it is a good idea to use variants of the same keywords. This just makes it really clear to the search engine what your content is about.
Using synonyms can help you to rank for secondary keywords,
Create Lengthy & In Depth Posts
When it comes to blog posts, the longer the better for SEO.
The optimal blog post length is 1500-2000 words. If you can go longer, that is even better.
Google tends to favour lengthy and in depth posts as it assumes that they are providing the best value to their users.
A recent study (above) showed that the majority of the content holding the top 10 spots on the Google SERP (search engine results page) each have over 2000 words.
If you want your content to rank high, you need to be creating posts >2000 words.
This is not a hard and fast rule though. In order to rank, you also have to consider your competition and what they are doing.
Look at other posts that are ranking high for your primary keyword. How many words do they have on their post?
If they all have 1000 words, then aim to write 1500 so that you can increase your chances of outranking them.
If they have 1500 words, then make your post 2000 words.
Of course, you do not want to ramble on and on in your content for the sake of creating a really long post. Your post should only be as long as it has to be to get your valuable information across.
Get to the point and offer as much information as you think they will benefit from.
Build Some Backlinks
Backlinks are links to your website from other websites.
If other people are linking to your content, it indicates to the search engine that you have good quality content.
How To Build Backlinks
- The easiest way to get backlinks to your site is by writing guest posts on other blogs. When you do this, you can often include your information and link to your blog or website at the end of your post.
- The next method is to ask other bloggers and influencers to link back to your site. This can be more of a challenge to achieve. You start by identifying your competitors content. You research to find who has linked to their content. If you believe that your content is better (you should), send them an email explaining why your content is better. Send them a link to your post and ask if they would consider linking to yours instead. Getting backlinks from other highly reputable blogs or websites is one of the best ways to build your credibility.
- You can also add backlinks on your blog by linking your post to your other posts on your blog. This serves two purposes. It gets people to stay on your site longer. It also helps the search engine bots to crawl your site, thereby boosting the SEO juice of your site.
Pro tip- when you are linking within your site, try to make sure that the link contains a keyword and not just a click here. Doing this will help the search engine to determine what the post is about.
Share Your Content on Social Media
Sharing your content on social media drives traffic to your site. That initial spike in traffic can indicate to the search engines that your content is valuable. If the search engines see that other people are enjoying your content, they are more likely to recommend it to other people. Thus improving the ranking on the SERP.
Use Valuable Outbound Links
Outbound links are similar to backlinks in that they tell the search engine that your content is valuable.
When you link to credible websites that are well recognized by your niche and industry, it helps your content out. This indicates that your post is well researched and referenced using other high value sources. This is something that a lot of people overlook, but something that the search engines view quite favourably.
Ensure That Your Site Is Fast And Responsive
Part of optimizing your content is optimizing your user experience. After all, if your site is not responsive, people are less likely to want to stick aroung.
Responsive refers to whether your site can be used on multiple devices. These days, the majority of users browse the internet on their mobile devices. You want to take their user into experience into consideration, making sure that the site is responsive.
The search engines pay attention to how long people stay on your page as a way of determining whether the content is valuable and high quality.
Of course, the better the post, the more people will want to actually read every word. Hence, people stay on the page longer.
Check Your Permalinks
Your permalink is the part of your link that goes after your website name. For instance, in this post, the permalink would be SEO for beginners.
Many websites use a format whereby the name of the post is included as well as the date and some other numbers and characters.
DO not use this.
Make sure to change your permalink and include your keyword in there.
Your Images Matter
The images that you choose to include on your blog matter for 2 reasons.
Firstly having images dispersed throughout your text helps to improve the readability and user experience. Readers are more engaged so they stay on your blog longer.
The second important point about images, is that you can use the alt text to tell search engines what your image is about.
The alt text should include your keyword.
Remember To Solve A Problem
At the heart of it, all these search engines want to do is help their users solve their problem. So remember this whenever you are creating content. The more you solve the users problems by addressing and answering their needs, the more the search engines will favour your content.
Use Tools To Help Your SEO
SEO is a lot to remember, and can often be overwhelming for the beginner. I know that was the case for me.
This does not mean that you should bury your head in the sand and ignore it.
Even though you are just starting out, there are a number of tools that you can use to help your SEO and optimize your content.
Yoast is a FREE plugin that is available to wordpress users. When you install this plug in, it gives you an indication of how well your post is optimized for the keyword that you chose.
Yoast reviews your post and displ\/ays a green light when it’s assessment shows that your post is well optimized.
It also gives you tips and suggestions on how to improve the SEO and readability of your blog post so that you have a better chance of ranking in the search engines.
Remember- SEO Does Not Work Overnight!
The truth is that when it comes to building traffic and growing an audience, many people tend to look for a quick fix. With SEO, you are really playing the long game. It is a long term strategy and certainly does not work overnight.
It takes time for search engines to index your website and your posts.
A general rule of thumb is that it can take 3 months of consistent SEO best practices for google to know how to categorize your website.
It is important to be consistent during this time with quality, relevant content so that when your site does start to rank, you can drive consistent traffic through SEO.
The ‘Other’ SEO Ranking Factors
In this post, we talked a lot about SEO ranking factors. It is important for me to mention that there are more technical things to consider when it comes to SEO. It even goes all the way down to the coding of your pages.
That is outside the scope of this blog post. As a beginner, I believe you have plenty to focus on with these SEO best practices that I have listed above.
To help you remember all of this, I have put together an SEO checklist for you.
I hope that this post was helpful for you and that you understand the basics of SEO for beginners.
Leave a comment and let me know if you have any additional questions. I do my best to answer every single question.